What are the best wedding traditions?

 ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ is a wedding tradition that originated in Victorian England and is still practised today. Alongside this ritual, many Western brides also toss their bouquets over their shoulders on the big day to confirm which wedding guest is likely to get married next.

The pale blue wedding I made for Isabelle hits the mark for ‘something new’ and ‘something blue’ at the same time!
Photo by Miranda Virgo 

But in a world filled up with 7.9 billion people in 195 countries, there are plenty more wedding traditions you might not know about. Some are extraordinarily beautiful and some are downright crazy, but all stem from religious, cultural or folklore tales that symbolise love, luck and happiness.

1.) Rocks aren’t just for diamonds in Australia

It was early Australian settlers that started the tradition of a wedding stone ceremony. With little money to spend on glamorous rings, newlyweds would instead each throw a stone into a flowing river to symbolise their commitment. This time-honoured tradition is still practised today along with the ritual of a unity bowl, which guests fill with colourful stones that represent the qualities of both the bride and groom. The unity bowl is then taken home by the couple to symbolise the support and love of friends and family.

2.) A smashing time in Greece

At a traditional Greek wedding, spirited guests take part in the custom of smashing china and glass. This dramatic ritual is known as breaking plates and it represents both new beginnings and the warding off of evil spirits. Although not as common as it used to be, we still love the idea of this unique and slightly crazy custom.

3.) Spanish brides go all in black

Historically, Spanish brides wear black lace wedding gowns and veils called mantillas on their big day. Black gowns and mantillas signify a bride’s devotion to her husband until death parts them. Mainly practised in the Roman Catholic Church, it’s a rather quixotic wedding tradition that honours loyalty and love.

4.) Extraordinary Indian inking

In India, brides-to-be spend the evening before their wedding having elaborately detailed henna patterns inked onto their hands and feet. Known as mehndi, this extremely important Indian tradition symbolises spiritual awakening, good health and prosperity and it’s thought that the darker the henna stain, the stronger the bond between man and wife will be.

5.) Making money in Cuba

The traditional Cuban money dance sees every male guest that dances with the bride pin money to her gown to help with honeymoon expenses. This opulent wedding tradition is a display of affection and good fortune and is also common in Greece and Poland.

6.) Single ladies honoured in Peru

Offering a sweet treat for the single ladies, in Peru, a traditional wedding cake is laced with ribbons. In a ritual known as the cake pull, all the single ladies choose a ribbon end to pull out. A different take on the wedding bouquet toss, the guest who pulls out the ribbon that has a small charm or ring attached to it is the lady who is supposed to be the next to marry.

Wedding traditions give guests and newlyweds a chance to look forward to magical moments that preserve cultural, religious and family rituals that often permeate through generations. Whilst you can opt-in or out of such traditions, it’s always fun to know, after some 23,000 years of marriage ceremonies, how people choose to celebrate around the world.

I love brides who want to forge their own traditions taking inspiration from history and around the world, please do get in touch if you would like a bespoke wedding dress to compliment your plans

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Felicity Westmacott

I write about all aspects of weddings, dressmaking, fashion history, and the human relation to clothing. I welcome comments and debate.

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